A COVERT camera will be used to catch fly-tippers in a South Durham village where illegal dumping is on the rise.

Asbestos sheets, asphalt road surfaces and manure are among the many items that have been discarded in areas in and around Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield.

In a bid to stop the growing problem, Bishop Middleham Parish Council has invested £1,600 in a hard drive, laptop and camera which will be set up in fly-tipping hotspots.

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Council chairman, Cllr Julie Hall, said: “We’ve had a few issues with fly-tipping around the village and it’s been on the increase.

“In the last 48 hours a bunch of Tarmac was dumped on a public walk way. Everything is neat and tidy in the village and it’s out of keeping so we hope it (the camera) will act as a big deterrent.”

It is believed the rubbish may be industrial waste being dumped by those trying to dodge paying commercial and industrial disposal fees.

Two weeks ago asbestos sheets were left at the Bishop Middleham Quarry Nature Reserve, leaving the parish council with no option but to call on Durham County Council (DCC) for a specialist team to remove the dangerous material.

Resident Fernie Boorman has been trying to fight the issue by collecting the litter and larger waste.

“Fly-tipping here is really bad and I can’t deal with all of it, it’s getting beyond a one person job,” she said. “It’s very frustrating because I care about the environment in which we live.”

And it was Ms Boorman who first wrote to DCC neighbourhood warden Neil Bloxsome who will put up and man the covert camera for the parish.

Ian Hoult, DCC neighbourhood protection manager, said he was “delighted” to have Bishop Middleham Parish Council on board with Operation Stop It! - a multi-agency campaign that has been running since 2014.

Mr Hoult added: “Footage captured by the camera will be checked should a fly-tip occur with a view to helping us to trace whoever was responsible and either prosecuting them or using the new powers we’ve been given by the government to issue a fixed penalty notice of up to £400.”

For information on fly-tipping and how to report it visit durham.gov.uk/flytipping